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After the storm: What do I do next?

After the storm: What do I do next? The storm has passed and your family is safe. You took all the necessary precautions such as having an adequate supply of drinking water and a flashlight. You may have even purchased a generator to ensure uninterrupted electricity in the event of a power outage.

The steps you take next are equally important in keeping your family safe and presenting a claim in the event there is damage to your home, auto, or personal property.

Your first priority should always be addressing safety concerns:

– Pay attention to the possibility of a gas leak or electrical damage. Do not light candles until you have verified it is safe. There may be an odor of gas or – in the case of electrical damage — a burning smell.

– Pay attention to any downed power lines and report them promptly to local authorities.

– Be alert for broken glass or other hazards.

– If you had flooding or water damage, have an electrician inspect before turning on the breaker. Keep receipts for possible reimbursement once you file a claim.

– Pay special attention to possible structural damage.

– Dispose of any food items that may have been compromised due to lack of refrigeration or water damage. If your insurance policy covers damage from loss of refrigeration, keep a record of the items you disposed.

If your home is damaged, please take the necessary steps to protect it form further damage:

– Cover broken windows.

– Make temporary repairs to the roof or cover it with a tarp.

– Dry floors, if possible, and pump our standing water.

– If it is necessary to leave your home for an extended period of time, take your valuables with you.

Please call your agent or insurance company to report your claim. It is not too early to begin compiling a list of damaged items. The claims representative assigned to your claim should provide you with forms to assist you in the process. The forms may ask for a description, age and cost of damaged items and where they were purchased. It is also helpful to take both exterior and interior photographs of the damage. Cell phone photographs are fine.

If there is damage to your residence, it is also recommended you secure a repair estimate from a reputable contractor. Be leery of any door-to-door construction companies that may attempt to pressure you into signing a contract.

The claims representative assigned to your claim is experienced and should be able to explain the claims process to you and answer your questions.


How to Help Prepare for Tornadoes

It is quite possible for a tornado to occur anytime and anywhere, often striking with little or no warning. This article will explain how to help prepare for tornadoes in the event of one. A critical prerequisite for helping to save lives and prevent harm is to know the signs of an impending tornado and being prepared on what to do when a tornado warning or watch is  issued.

The first step in preparation is to have a written plan and to conduct a tornado drill on a routine basis in order to help protect your family, employees, students, customers, and others in your care in the event of a tornado.

Create a Written Plan

Intricate instructions can be difficult for anyone to remember, especially in the heat of the moment during a crisis or extreme weather event. Creating a tornado plan, writing it down, and then discussing it with family members, employees, or students helps ensure everyone feels comfortable with it and understands what to do in case the worst happens. In your plan, be sure to address the following key elements:


Designate the safest place to meet in your home or facility when a tornado warning is issued. A basement or tornado shelter, if available, is always best option. If one is not available or accessible, choose a windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of the structure. Be sure to document and discuss the quickest, safest paths to your shelter spot in your plan.


Create a disaster survival kit that includes tornado-specific safety supplies you mat need, including a whistle to signal for help if trapped under the debris; flashlights; extra batteries; and a portable weather radio. Keep the kit and supplies in or on the way to your designated shelter area in a well-marked location. Be sure to designate an individual responsible for keeping the survival kit stocked who will also be responsible for grabbing the kit on the way to the shelter location in an emergency.


Have a plan to keep in touch with family members or employees who may not be at home or work when a tornado strikes. One option is to ask an out-of-state relative or friend to serve as a family contact or establish an employee call center. Make sure all family members and care providers (teachers, day care, etc.) have the emergency contact information, or employees know the process to contact the call center.


At the very least, everyone should know the proper method to crouch and cover their head until the threat of a tornado passes. If possible, stock your shelter area with large, sturdy objects to crouch underneath for extra protection. Mattresses or sleeping bags for cover are a good idea as well.

Practice the Plan

Set a specific time each year to conduct a tornado drill to help get your family, employees or students in the habit of preparation. Then, on the designated drill day to do the following:

1. Pretend as if a tornado has been sighted or a warning issued. Use the available, designated means to alert participants of the test, notifying them to make their way to the designated shelter area.

2. If it is part of the plan, the appointed family or team member should pick up the disaster survival kit on his or her way to the shelter area.

3. Once everyone is gathered in the shelter area, practice any safety measures that are part of your plan—including properly crouching down as low as possible, facing the floor and covering heads with hands.

After the Drill, Are you Prepared?

Evaluate how well the drill went, updating your plan as necessary based on the answers to the following questions:

1. How quickly was everyone able to get to the shelter area? Could quicker escape paths be used?

2. Assess the condition of the shelter area. Was it too cluttered or disorganized for all the participants to assume the proper safety positions? Will additional shelter areas be required?

3. Did the notification process run smoothly? If not, how can it be improved?

4. Was the disaster survival kit adequately stocked and available at the shelter area in a timely manner?



Safe Summer Fun

Everyone wants the opportunity to have some fun in the sun. Good weather is the best excuse to get out of the house and enjoy the outdoors. It also gives some unscrupulous people the opportunity they are looking for to burglarize your home or car and take your valuable possessions. This post is all about ways to have safe summer fun. It is tough to prevent 100% of the thefts, however there are steps you can take to minimize the potential problem.

According to the FBI Uniform Crime Statistics, victims of burglary offenses suffered an estimated 4.9 billion dollars  in lost property in 2011: overall, the average dollar loss per burglary offense was $2,185. Burglaries of residential properties accounted for 74.5% of all burglary offenses.

These statistics show exactly why we have to be very aware of the potential for theft and take all necessary steps to minimize this crime.

The National Crime Prevention Council offers the following tips to help you protect your property:

– Illuminate the outside of your home to eliminate potential hiding places

– Leave a few lights on in your home to make it appear occupied (timers on lights are a good option in the event you will be gone)

– Plan landscaping to provide maximum visibility to and from your house

– Cut tree limbs back from your home to prevent access to windows

– Use a strong exterior door – either solid wood or metal – and add lighting at every door

– Install locks on all sliding glass doors and place metal or wooden bars in the tracks to prevent opening

– Make sure your windows are secured and have a good locking mechanism

– Use strong and reliable locks; this is one of the most cost effective ways to help secure your property

– Always keep doors and windows locked, even if you are going to be gone only for a few minutes

Additional Property Safety Tips:

– Purchase a home security alarm

– Let a trusted neighbor, friend or relative know when you are going to be gone for more than one night

– Don’t allow newspapers or mail to accumulate; have a friend pick them up

– Let your local law enforcement know if you will be gone for an extended time

While you may not be able to prevent every break-in, making a few changes in home security can help minimize thefts.


Importance of Risk Transfer

Think about someone who recently had a new roof installed on their house. Before any of the construction, they had to negotiate the terms of the project.

After accepting the winning bid, the contractor sent over an outline of the work they had planned. After they review the contract, they made a few addendums to the risk transfer, additional insureds, and insurance requirements. The contract is signed then returned to the contractor. After negotiating the changes and reaching a final agreement, the work was then started according to the new terms of the contract. However, many insureds might hear risk transfer and additional insureds and have absolutely no idea what these mean.

Let’s start with risk transfer. It is a well-used insurance term that simply means a transfer of responsibility. Typically this is a transfer that occurs between two parties with shared responsibility. The party with the smaller amount of control will transfer full risk and responsibility to the party with the majority control.

If this were my roof, the roofers and I would have a shared responsibility: me as the property owner, them as the people working on my property. What happens if someone is injured on my property as a result of the work being done there? What happens in the case of a lawsuit being filed? That suit will likely be filed against both the roofers and me. Even though I did nothing wrong, it is still my property and I am responsible for what happens there. I solve that problem by transferring responsibility for injuries resulting from the roofing project to the roofing contractor.

So just how did I accomplish this transfer of responsibility? Quite simple actually; I asked the contractor to add me as an additional insured on his insurance policy. As an additional insured, I have liability coverage under the roofer’s insurance policy for lawsuits brought against me as a result of injury or damage caused by the roofer. However, coverage limitations and other items may not protect me completely: this is a simplified example, so it is important for you to talk to your independent insurance agent and your legal advisor about this.

Residential contractors assume that you’ll simply sign the contract and let them do the work; that’s how its usually done. Once contractors understand what you are looking for, they are willing to accept your terms.

In the world of commercial construction, contractors spend a lot of time on risk transfer and additional insureds. Risk transfer will always be an important part of the hiring process.

In the end my roof was installed without a hitch. That’s the way most projects go, but you need to be ready for the times that they don’t.


Boating Safety Tips

Before setting out on your boat, it is always a good thing to freshen up on your boat safety. Follow this checklist of boating safety tips to help promote a safe trip while out on the water:

-Share your float plan with a friend

-Share your location and expected time of arrival with a friend

-Check fuel levels (add if necessary)

-Check your engine (look for fuel or leakage if the engine is in-board)

-Ensure all lights are functioning and in place

-Check for any electrical issues such as loose, disconnected, or corroded conductors

-Test radio/communications devices

-Run blowers to evacuate fumes and vapors from the bilge prior to starting your engine

-Attach your boat and vehicle keys to a floating bobber

-Check the local weather, sea reports, and boating forecasts

-Have an emergency/evacuation plan in place, and go over it with your passengers

-Review the vessel’s controls, location of personal flotation devices and location of fire extinguishers with your passengers


What to take aboard

No matter how careful you are, accidents can still happen. Make sure to bring these things aboard the boat with you:

-Boat certification and registration

-Towing policy paperwork (if you have one)

-Personal flotation device

-Charged and functioning fire extinguisher

-Fully-stocked emergency/survival kit


Staying safe on the water

-Having a good time out of the lake or ocean also means getting everyone back safely. These few tips will help you stay safe out in the water:

  • Shut off the engine while passengers are unloading or loading onto the vessel for recreational activities

  • Do NOT exceed the amount of passengers safely allowed on your vessel

By following these boating safety tips, it will make your day out on the water a lot safer and more enjoyable.